The Framework Convention on Global Health and WHO

October 16, 2016


In an online comment in The Lancet, a group of health and human rights experts led by Lawrence O. Gostin argues that the next Director-General of WHO should bring human rights to the forefront of this international organization. According to the authors, a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) should be the basis for this. The new Director-General, who will be elected in May 2017, should “seize the potential of the FCGH, incorporating it into a bold vision for WHO”.

A Framework Convention on Global Health would establish minimum standards for universal health coverage and public health measures, with an accompanying national and international financing framework. It would require a constant focus on health equity, and promote Health in All Policies and global governance for health. Finally, it would advance the principles of good governance, including accountability.

The article lists four main problems with current global governance for health and how the FCGH would solve that:

  1. Lack of systemwide accountability. The FCGH would establish accountability mechanisms, with high-quality disaggregated data and community participation. An FCGH global accountability framework would reinforce key health commitments including the right to health norms, funding, SDG health targets, and health-rights in UN commitments (eg, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People).
  2. Persisting inequalities. The FCGH would focus on health justice, elevating the voices, priorities, and ultimately the power of marginalised populations. The FCGH would mandate national health equity strategies, identifying obstacles to equality with funded plans of action.
  3. Insufficient financing. Establish a national and global health-financing framework to ensure UHC (Universal Health Coverage), including underlying determinants of health, and reduce health-financing disparities.
  4. Detrimental effects of non-health sectors. The FCGH would protect the right to health in all sectors, including through right to health impact assessments of for instance international agreements.

Source (full-text article): The next WHO Director-General’s highest priority: a Global Treaty on the Human Right to Health. The Lancet Global Health. October 13, 2016